What Is a Notional Agreement

A constructio kata synesin (or constructio ad sensum in Latin) is a grammatical construct in which a word assumes the gender or number not of the word with which it should regularly correspond, but of another word implicit in that word. It is actually a correspondence of words with meaning, instead of the morphosyntactic form. [1] The fictitious chord is something we don`t often pay attention to because it`s almost instinctive, part of our usual speaking habits. And this is not an established rule per se, but rather a matter of preference, and it is more common in British English than in American English. If you preferred to say, «A lot of night owls were approaching,» you wouldn`t be wrong. Of course, you can still use a formal agreement, but there will be times when the result seems stilted and old-fashioned. When this happens, ask yourself instead if you have any arguments in favor of a fictitious agreement. In addition to the situations I gave in «Grammar Bite: Making Subjects and Verbs Agree,» here are a few others that follow the fictitious agreement: Prescriptivist H. W. Fowler supports fictitious correspondence in several cases. In his Dictionary of Modern English Usage, he wrote to «none»: «It is a mistake to assume that the pronoun is sung.

only and must sing at all costs. verben &c.; the OED explicitly states that pl. Construction is more common. «But I failed to place these subject-verb-correspondence questions in the right context under the very useful generic term `fictitious agreement`. I would have liked to have thought about that. This is a great illustration of an interesting quirk in the English language. But in fact, this example is stolen in an excellent article recently published online by the people of Merriam-Webster. The subject: the fictitious agreement. Such use in English grammar is often referred to as fictitious chord (or fictitious harmony[2]) because the chord is consistent with the idea of what the noun means, rather than with the strict grammatical form of the noun (normative formal agreement). The term situational agreement is also found, because the same word can take a singular or plural verb, depending on the interpretation and the desired accent of the speaker or writer: in the end, the context comes into play, the sentence usually providing a kind of information that emphasizes the plural essence of what is technically a singular noun.

With «The couple was seen in a gray car,» you can intuitively see that two people were seen; Similarly, «The Crew Prepared for Launch» is reminiscent of many people working together and suggests plurality, and it is this notion that makes a speaker prefer a plural verb. The idea here is that the verb is plural to coincide with «croutons», even though the singular «there» is technically the subject of this sentence. That`s why «Croutons» is a fictional theme. Although the fictional match is used more often in British English than in American English, a certain amount is natural in any variety of English. American style guides, for example, give advice on fictitious correspondence for sentences such as a number of, a set, and a sum of. WaDA`s style manual says:[3] «The number is singular and a number of is plural»[3] (so the number of mosquitoes increases, but a number of brands of mosquito repellents are available) and «The same goes for the total number and a sum of»[3] (so the total number has increased, but a total of 28 volunteers submitted applications [did not *submit]). It`s the same concept covered by the chicago style (16th edition) at «5.9 Mass Noun Followed by a Prepositional Phrase,»[4] but not all relevant names (including «number») are mass substantiants. Most English speakers are familiar with the basic rule of subject-verb pairing: a singular noun takes on a singular verb and a plural noun takes its corresponding plural.

Another situation where you see a fictitious match in the game involves words like «crew,» «couple,» «pair,» and «trio.» These words are singular. But sometimes it makes more sense to work with the idea that they represent a plural. «The crew is stamped and ready to get to work.» «The two were seen walking away in a gray car.» If you haven`t heard of a fictitious agreement yet, it may be partly my fault. I`ve talked a lot about related topics, like how to know what form of verb to use with «a herd of seagulls.» Is it «A herd of seagulls is above us» or «a herd of seagulls is above us»? (Short answer: Both can be correct, as we`ll see in a moment.) In Miss Thistlebottom`s Hobgoblins, Theodore Bernstein argues for a fictitious deal under «Number» without using the term. «Some people are very literal about the grammatical number,» Bernstein writes. «They tend to focus on the exact word they think is the subject of the sentence when they should sometimes look at the thought that the word or words represent.» As for dissidents like Mr. Cairns, Garner`s Modern American Usage notes contemptuously: «Some pedants think that righteousness dictates to a certain number of people.» I share that feeling, but I wouldn`t say it that way. Insisting on a formal agreement in all circumstances is not pedantry; it is ignorance. In addition to the fictitious agreement, there is a second principle here that makes the use of a plural verb more «correct» than the singular verb, and this is the so-called principle of proximity. This means, for example, that in a construction like «a set of night owls», one might be more inclined to choose a verb form that corresponds to the plural noun that is closer to the verb (night owl) in the sentence than to the singular noun further away (together): If a formal agreement distracts readers from your intended message, it`s time to apply a fictitious agreement instead.

For a discussion of the agreement with collective names (in American English and British English), see American English. Some common cases of fictitious agreement concern (1) collective names (e.B. «family»); (2) plural expressions of quantity («five years»); (3) Plural proper nouns («United States»); and (4) some composite units with and («Bed and Breakfast»). Formal agreement means that a verb is singular or plural depending on the grammatical form of its subject. The fictitious agreement means that a verb is singular or plural, depending on whether its subject is understood as one thing or as several. Compare these examples: no one takes a singular verb if what they are referring to is singular, and a plural verb if its speaker is plural. In English grammar, the fictitious chord refers to the correspondence (or concord) of verbs with their subjects and pronouns with their previous nouns based on meaning rather than grammatical form. Also known as synese.

(Other terms for the fictitious chord are the fictitious harmony, the semantic chord, the ad sensum chord, the logical chord, and the constructio ad sensum.) The fictitious chord, sometimes called fictitious harmony or synesis, means applying subject-verb correspondence rules based on the intended meaning rather than syntax. We can therefore couple a singular noun with a plural verb or a plural noun with a singular verb if the desired meaning requires it: «When mathematical equations are pronounced in the form of English sentences, the verb is usually in the singular: two plus two is (or equal to) four. For the same reason, subjects containing two nominal expressions related by plus are generally interpreted as singular: slow construction and bad weather have created a weak market. This observation has led some to argue that in these sentences, plus acts as a preposition meaning «in addition to» […] It makes more sense to think of Plus in these uses as a conjunction that connects two subjects into a single entity that requires a single verb per fictitious agreement. (One hundred words almost everyone confuses and abuses. Houghton, 2004) But the fictitious agreement goes beyond these two scenarios. There are also words like «political.» The phrases «Politics is hard work» and «Politics is a hot topic» show that the correspondence of verbs depends on whether the word is singular or plural. What is at work here is the principle of the fictitious agreement. Thus, Merriam-Webster`s Dictionary of English Usage explains the principle: «If the group is considered a unit, the singular verb is used; If it is considered a set of individuals, the plural verb is used. «But why is it? If none means «nobody, not one,» shouldn`t it always be used with a singular verb? Formal agreement dictates that a pair of singular subjects is associated with a singular verb and a pair of plural subjects with a plural verb. But the result does not always make sense: the fictitious agreement, as explained by the inhabitants of Merriam, refers to a number of situations where a subject and a verb do not have the direct relationship that we usually see.

Know how the verb in «One Cat Sleeps» and «Two Cats Sleep» is slightly different. Alternatively, you will often see cases where a plural verb is used with a singular noun that indicates plurality because of its meaning and context. These names include couple, trio, crowd, family, crew, crowd, generation and committee. You can see a sentence like «The couple was seen in a gray car» or «The crew was preparing for launch,» where what are usually singular subject subelements (couple and crew) are associated with a plural verb (were). In 2010, I wrote a column describing some of the many subject-verb chord rules, including this one: So the fictitious chord is a natural function of language, something we`ve been doing for a long time but haven`t noticed until recently. Paul Roberts wrote about it in Understanding Grammar in 1954, and other commentators have since written about it, including luminary Bryan Garner. Still other commentators have advised to follow a fictitious match in some cases without saying, perhaps without realizing it, that they did. .